The mortgage business is in Ryan Shane’s blood.
Ryan’s dad, Harley, started a mortgage company in 1988, when Ryan was 4. In 1992, Harley and a business partner started Sammamish Mortgage, the Seattle-area mortgage company Ryan Shane’s family owns to this day.
Harley, a former football player, suffered a major back injury that caused disintegration in his spine. He eventually needed a wheelchair to get around. Before he died in 2002, Ryan’s mother, Jeanne, started helping out at the office answering phones. By the time Harley passed, she was originating loans herself. Ryan’s brother Michael left college in 2003 to join her.
Ryan graduated from college in 2008 and came to work for what had become the family business. Like his mother, he started out answering phones, but worked his way up to originating mortgages. Ryan’s younger brother Trevor also has joined the family business as a loan officer.
Although he had been around the mortgage industry all his life, there was a steep learning curve once he began originating mortgages himself, Ryan said. “There’s so much that goes into it,” he said. “Being around it just kind of gave me an idea of the highs and lows … I saw the highs, but this industry is crazy, and there are times when it’s cyclical. My dad getting sick and passing away, obviously there were lows at that point. So I’ve seen it all.”
One thing’s for sure: Ryan Shane is enjoying a high point recently, ranking No. 2 in Scotsman Guide’s annual Top Originator rankings for Top Volume Gain. His volume gain in 2017 over the previous year was more than $74 million.
Much of that success came as the company shifted away from refinances toward purchase mortgages, Ryan said. In 2015, refinances made up around 80 percent of the company’s volume, but the company began pivoting toward purchases in the wake of rising interest rates.
For Ryan, much of the shift toward purchases was facilitated by forging new relationships with real estate agents. Many of his clients began asking him if he could refer them to real estate agents.
“It wasn’t something I ever pursued,” he said. “So, in late 2016, I started making that a priority, and I started being able to kind of flip the script and … refer out business to Realtors.” They reciprocated, and his purchase volume grew.
Technology is another area of focus for the company, Ryan said. As a small company, Sammamish Mortgage is at the forefront of testing new technologies to see what works the best, he said, noting that there’s pent-up demand for an easier, more efficient mortgage-application process. Greater efficiency is a win-win: It makes it cheaper to process loans, and mortgage companies can pass the savings on to borrowers.
“Operational costs right now are huge for a company, compared to what they could be or should be,” he said. “I think tech is going to play a huge part in (changing the industry) eventually. … Everything from asset verification to income verification to many other things, the way the systems talk to each other — it’s all going to change.”
For the ninth year in a row, we compiled the industry’s most comprehensive list of the nation’s top mortgage originators. The rankings include not only the originators who are closing the most dollar volume and the most loans, but also the leaders in niche areas, like Federal Housing Administration, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Agriculture loans as well as home equity lines of credit.